I believe that one of the best life tools God has given me is the ability to allow criticism to provoke, not offend, me. I'll never forget when someone told me that I could not opine on politics because I was just a Green Card holder. What struck me is that I hadn't voiced my opinion. You see, that day I listened during a lively discussion at work. At some point I chimed in, offering a fact: while most Black voters back Obama, some Blacks do not support him and may even be registered Republicans. Still, had I been inserting opinion, my critic's statement would have been true. I couldn't even be mad.
With brute determination, I printed and filled out my N-400 Application for Naturalization, made out its accompanying check and mailed that puppy off. I knew it was time for me to gain citizenship. I whizzed through the biometric and interview appointments and months later, on May 28th at 8a.m., I was one of hundreds who belted that "I'm proud to be an American..." at the swearing in ceremony. The next day, I was happy to recount the experience with my critic, who knew nothing of my naturalization process. "And would you just allow me to do one more thing?" I kindly asked. "Sure!" they answered. "Bam!" I blurted while thrusting out my sparkling Certificate of Naturalization. I sent off my voter's registration application that same day.
We live in an age of offense.
Phrases like "Oh, no they didn't!" and "Who do they think they are?" are ever
on our lips. Certainly, no one deserves to be belittled, dehumanized or
underestimated under ANY circumstance. In such instances, it's only right to call
There are times, however, when sensitivity is wrapped in pride. High-mindedness often causes us to miss blessings. Take Naaman in the Old Testament, for instance. This mighty warrior led his Syrian army to victory against the children of Israel. However, Naaman contracted leprosy. I can nearly hear him saying, "Do you know who am I?" when the prophet Elisha, firstly, did not greet him with the customary fanfare and, secondly, told him to bathe seven times in the dirty Jordan River. It took Naaman's servants to convince him to humble himself so he could be healed.
Some ideas will make us uncomfortable. Nevertheless, God has promised us blessings, not comfort, here on earth. Comments will chafe against us, especially when uninvited. What we do with and during the friction is what counts. If we are to live under the Lord's anointing and abundance, we cannot afford to be vexed with minor issues. I love when I re-read how Jesus faced his critics: He answered them not a word (Matthew 15:23). Jesus wasn't passive; He was purposed.
Will you challenge yourself to not let criticism influence your emotions, but your actions? We must be about the business of living and loving. The hours wasted nursing offenses are always worse than whatever caused them. A powerful line in the book Commander in Chic, which celebrates Michelle Obama (ironically, I admire the Obamas), states that "Wish lists are for children. Women have checklists!"
Whether man or woman, we would all do well to know that not all criticism constitute disses...and if they do, so what?
Ana Valeska is a not-so-naughty librarian, college instructor, book editor and--yeah,baby--NEWD columnist. Her forthcoming work, Tu Eres (You Are), is a devotional based on modern-day worship psalms. Ana Valeska longs to help redeem urban, young adult culture for the Lord Jesus. Her daughter, Selena, and cat, Puffles, have her wrapped around their little fingers.